This pastoral stream is not nearly so rough-and-tumble as are the majority of waterways in the Smokies. Anglers from upstate New York will feel quite at home here; the stream has a generous helping of long, slick runs, perfect for floating a sparsely dressed dry fly. Once discovered, Cataloochee becomes a personal Mecca that provides an escape from the crowds and hurried lifestyle of the outside world.
Fishing Pressure: Moderate to light
Fishing Quality: Excellent; particularly good early and late in the season
Access: New Cataloochee Road;
Usgs Quads: Dellwood, NC; Cove Creek Gap, NC; Bunches Bald, NC; Luftee Knob, NC
The main stream of Cataloochee Creek is populated by a mixture of rainbow and brown trout, with trophies occasionally taken of each. Terrestrials such as jassids, grasshoppers, and several other seasonal land insects are extremely important to the diet of these trout, particularly where the stream flows past open fields. Once, while fishing below the campground, I was lucky enough to be on the stream while one of the fields was being mowed. With every pass of the mowing tractor, a wave of fleeing grasshoppers would spangle the surface of the creek. The Hip's Hopper I used that day accounted for more than fifty creel-size trout (both rainbow and brown) within a two-hour period (all were released). I would never venture into this valley without an assortment of terrestrial imitations.
The lower reaches of Cataloochee Creek are alive with smallmouth bass in the 3- to 5-pound class. These fish are common in the stream to its mouth at Waterville Lake.
Access to Cataloochee Creek:
Getting to this remote area requires a long drive over a gravel road. Approaching from the west along I-40, take the Waterville exit (No. 451) and cross the Pigeon River. Turn left at the end of the bridge, and follow the paved road 2 miles to an intersection. Here, turn left onto a gravel road (formerly known as NC 284), and continue on to the Cataloochee Valley (approximately 23 miles).
Upon reaching the valley, the New Cataloochee Road follows alongside the stream for 3 miles, arriving at the campground. The confluence of Palmer Creek and Caldwell Fork is located a short distance upstream. The confluence of these two streams marks the starting point of Cataloochee Creek.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication